It has been a while since I last updated. Since then, I have been keeping up with the podcast about Napoleon Bonaparte, and I listened to a book about Daniel Tammet, an autistic man with incredible abilities. That book is called Born on a Blue Day and I highly suggest checking it out.
Today, I started The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. Only a few chapters in, Obama caught me with an idea that I have been thinking about since I first heard his name mentioned back during the primaries.
This all goes back to an article I read in the New York Times. I read that around 131 veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars had come home and committed some sort of violence or murder. What an appalling number! In retrospect, this probably happens in all wars. But I hadn't been alive or socially aware during any others. So I began looking at the candidates' plans for getting out of Iraq. I wanted something that was quick and clean. We were in a tight spot. If we left too soon, things would be bad. If we stayed any longer, things would be bad. Either way, Iraq was fucked. So I read up on Hilary Clinton and John McCain and Barack Obama. The latter's plan seemed to me to be swiftest. He had an 18 month program that would get troops out of Iraq and back home where those people belong. That was my main reason in getting involved in this year's election. Our American troops shouldn't have to suffer in Iraq for a bullshit war, or go nuts in Afghanistan chasing a ghost.
I decided to do some further reading on Barack to see if he was a candidate I could get behind. You see, I voted for Bush in 2004 as a lesser of two evils deal, and I swore to never vote again unless I knew and agreed with most of what a candidate stood for. One of the articles I read brought up the moral battle in the United States and how Obama could be beyond that. Since the 1960's, when everything people knew was thrown upside down, the American people have been split between right and left. And that is fine. There have always been two dominate parties in the U.S. and there always will be. But what was happening was that people were getting away from the policies and moving toward moral stances, which is understandable considering all of the corruption Washington has seen. The author of this article says that unlike the rest of the candidates in primary, Barack is young enough and out of reach enough to side with the younger generations who are tired of that nonsense. His growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia may have given him a different perspective on the United States and how it works. This got me pumped. For the last few years, I swore of politics all together because it wasn't even about what was being done in the American legislature or how we can make our lives better. It was about abortion, gay marriage, and all of these social issues that are indeed important but that overshadowed things that were really going on--things that we are dealing with today, like the environment, the economic crisis, our dependency on oil. We were so busy throwing stones, we didn't see the hole we dug below our feet.
Barack Obama says in this book that politics is not about good vs. evil. Thank God someone else believes that. It is about people with different opinions coming together to find the best way to run our country. I was actually perturbed by some of my peers' reactions toward Obama being elected president. They were saying things like, "I'm afraid for my country," and "We better get ready for end times because the anti-Christ is here." How offensive! I think John McCain would have made a fine president. He's a smart man. I disagreed with some of the things he wanted to do with our country (not to mention his running mate was kind of a nut). I would have been bummed that Obama had lost, but by no means would I call McCain the anti-Christ simply because he has different views than me.
It isn't about good vs. evil. It's about the policies. I am not saying you don't have the right to be passionate about your party's stances. If you hate abortion, work towards ending abortion. But don't be hateful. If you want gay-marriage, work on getting some legislature passed. Talk to your congressman or woman. There will always be division. I know that. But we can have division and still be civil. You aren't evil because of the party you are associated with. You aren't evil because your Truth may be different than my Truth. Evil is a strong word. It should not be used lightly. But when someone says that all democrats are going to hell. . .that's awful. Is that not evil thinking? Someone who says all Republicans are rich and they hate the poor. That is stereotyping and completely ridiculous.
I know that Barack will not put an end to this social/moral rift. But I believe that he can usher in a new era of generations who are tired of quarreling about these things that really don't hold a lot of water when it comes to how our country is run. Maybe we can get back to disagreeing about taxes and the poor shape of our economy. Let's argue about education and how that should be run. Barack Obama will not fix these things for us. But my hope is that he can create a new playing field. He may be the breath of fresh air this country needs to shake the last 60 years of running in circles.
I like the title of his book. The audacity of hope. He's crazy for trying to change things. But here's hoping.